Golden State Warriors: An unthinkable ending for the last NBA's legendary roster

The loss to the Sacramento Kings marks the end of a dominant dynasty that ruled the top basketball league in the world for the past decade.

Back in 2009, the NBA brought us one of the best drafts in contemporary memory: Blake Griffin, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday... and Stephen Curry. The Golden State Warriors were going through a dark period. They barely managed to qualify for the playoffs once in 15 seasons. They used their first draft pick on a player born in Ohio in 1988 who came from the Davidson Wildcats (North Carolina). The team trusted him and the gamble paid off. He ended up becoming the leader of the team that dominated the NBA for years.

With Curry as the story's superstar, the Warriors wrapped up the last chapter of a book that includes the successes of the great NBA dynasties. The book has fifteen chapters, one for each season since the point guard came to San Francisco and turned the franchise around. He wasn't alone. In addition to Curry, the Warriors' story was made up of other important "characters", such as Steve Kerr, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala, the latter two are no longer on the team. Together, they formed something special.

The first three seasons with Curry on the roster was an exciting introduction. Despite failing to qualify for the playoffs, the Warriors were beginning to show signs that something good was coming. The story began to unfold from the fourth season onwards, back in 2012-2013. The Warriors made it to the playoffs. They lost in the Western Conference semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs.

Two seasons later, they finally had their chance to shine and take home their championship ring. They reached the NBA Finals and did not fail. They defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers and won the first of their four Larry O'Brien trophies, with Curry leading the way on the court. And that's not all. They went on to win three more championships (2016-2017, 2017-2018 and 2021-2022) and lost two final games (2015-2016 and 2018-2019). Then, in the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons, they did not even make it to the playoffs. Last season, the Warriors made it to the Western Conference semifinals and surprisingly lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Last season, the Golden State Warriors were rarely mentioned as a top contender for the 2023-2024 NBA championship, particularly because other teams such as the Boston Celtics, the Denver Nuggets, the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks had more balanced rosters. The Warriors' regular season was inconsistent, which was unusual given their typically successful track record, except for the two seasons when they missed the playoffs.

In order to make it through the playoffs, they had to face the Sacramento Kings led by Domantas Sabonis, Keegan Murray, Malik Monk and others. The Warriors were in tenth place in the Western Conference standings, so they had to beat the Kings to make it to the next game, which would have put them in contention for the championship. However, they failed to deliver and lost 118-94. The season was over for the Warriors. It was an unexpected outcome for a team with such a strong track record.

Practically none of the players rose to the challenge of such a crucial game. Curry only scored 22 points. Green wasn't up for it and neither was Thompson, who did not score a single point in the 32 minutes he was on the court. All three players, aged 36, 34, and 34 respectively, are reaching the end of their careers and they can't keep up with the physicality, versatility and speed that the new generative of players have. The sole exception is Jonathan Kuminga, who scored 16 points and made seven rebounds and two assists against the Kings. The Warriors are pinning most of their hopes on Kuminga to usher in a new era of success.

Kerr will also play an important role. Two months ago, his contract was extended for two more seasons, making him the highest-paid head coach in NBA history with $35 million. Since losing to the Kings, people are starting to doubt the man behind the greatest Warriors team of all time. He now faces an uphill battle to restore the franchise to its former glory since taking over in 2014. He will need to win back the unwavering support of the franchise and Warriors fans.

The Golden State Warriors, led by Curry and Kerr, have been one of the most triumphant dynasties in history. They have mirrored the dominance and success of legendary teams such as Bill Russell's Celtics in the 50s and 60s, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Lakers in the 80s, Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls in the 90s, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal's Lakers in the early 2000s and the San Antonio Spurs under Greg Popovich, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker in the early 2000s.